By Mark Butcher in Macao: The cameo star of ‘Transformers 4’ transformed into a world class fighter before our eyes. Chinese boxing icon Zou Shiming showed poise, discipline and fortitude in the trenches to clearly outpoint three-time world title challenger Colombian Luis De La Rosa over 10 absorbing rounds before a boisterous Cotai Arena crowd at the Venetian Casino.
The former two-time Olympic champion picked up a glitzy, gem-encrusted WBO international title belt for his longest night’s work to date that headlined the ’Champions Of Gold’ event. The scorecards were 99-91 (twice) and 97-93 in favour of Zou and reflected his control in the contest.
A world title shot now awaits on November 22nd back here in Macao. Trainer Freddie Roach said he will review tapes of the prospective title-holders in the coming weeks before a final decision on an opponent is made.
Zou, 5-0 (1), was unrecognizable from the over-eager novice who struggled to adjust to the professional code in his first two contests. He has matured physically and was able to match the roughhouse Colombian for strength on the inside. He followed master trainer Roach’s gameplan to a tee, piercing De La Rosa’s guard with a telling jab through the middle while balancing the speed and footwork of his amateur days with the strength and power the trainer has developed as a pro.
A relieved and delighted Roach spoke to me afterwards after most of the Chinese and international media had filtered into the night. “I thought Zou showed great discipline and listened to me very well in the corner,” said Roach. “He followed my instructions well. I told him to take a couple of rounds off and move and box a bit more. In the last round I told him, ‘okay, let’s go out in this round and finish him’ and he tried his hardest. And the other guy tried hard, too, because he only had one way to win and that was by knockout. I knew it was kind of risky in the last round, but felt it was worth that risk.
“I liked that he gave De La Rosa a little motion and counterpunched very well. He is a professional tonight,” continued Roach. “The other kid can hit a bit. But Zou is a tough guy, he’s a tiger in there. He’s not a weak-chinned fighter. Zou took some big shots and gave some big shots. So I was very proud of him.
“I talked to (matchmaker) Sean Gibbons and he went over all those guys (the flyweight world champions) with me and I told him to send me tapes on all of them and I’ll make a final decision. Zou has told me he could make light-flyweight. If I talk to Zou and he feels comfortable at 108lbs then we will go to 108lbs.
“We had four good wins tonight (Wild Card Gym fighters Zou, Brian Viloria, Egor Mekhontsev and Ik Yang all triumphed). All my guys did really well in their fights, but I’ve got to say Shiming stole the show.”
A full live report from the night’s boxing at the Cotai Arena is available here.